Convicted trafficker Isidro Rodriguez sighted in Spain; Arrest and extradite Rodriguez now, victims urge PH gov’t

wanted isidroIsidro Rodriguez, a fugitive of law and one of the most notorious illegal recruiters and traffickers in the Philippine Embassy in the United States’ watchlist, was sighted in Granada, Spain this January. Rodriguez remains at large after having been convicted by a Manila regional trial court sentencing him to 11 years in prison for victimizing a Filipino teacher.  He has two existing warrants of arrest against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. Aside from the warrants, he has numerous pending cases of syndicated estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons filed in different courts by at least 300 Filipino teachers that he had victimized from 2009-2014. He also has pending complaints against him in US courts by Filipino teachers he has victimized there. “It has come to our knowledge that notorious trafficker and illegal recruiter Isidro Rodriguez is presently operating in Granada, Spain and has victimized at least five more Filipinos there. We learned about his whereabouts when a concerned Spanish citizen emailed us after reading about him in advertisements we released online last year. The Spanish informer also sent us photos of Rodriguez while in Granada, Spain and we confirm that it is indeed him,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson. Martinez said that they were also able to communicate via email with one of his most recent victims, a Filipina domestic worker in Spain. “She informed us that she met Rodriguez in Granada in October 2014. Along with five others, they were also duped by Rodriguez but unfortunately only learned about his cases and warrant of arrests in January 2015 through the Migrante website. She said that they last saw him last December 2014 and have not heard from him since. They fear that he might have already transferred to Madrid, Spain,” he said. According to Martinez, Rodriguez’ latest victims have also already filed police reports and complaints against Rodriguez in Granada, Spain. For her part, GURO Spokesperson Engelyn Belmonte said, “This is very distressing news. After his release from jail last year, upon advice and endorsement from IACAT (Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons), we filed for a hold departure order against him at the Bureau of Immigrations. The BI then placed him on a “watchlist”. The BI also assured us that he was still in the country and has not left since his release. When his warrants were released, we took it upon ourselves, with the help of Migrante, to launch a manhunt and public information campaign to learn of his whereabouts.” In November 2014, the trafficking in persons filed by the first batch of teachers against him was dismissed and referred to illegal recruitment courts, while batches upon batches of large-scale illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa cases against him remain unresolved to this day. They have consequently filed a motion for reconsideration for the TIP case and a motion for speedy trial for the IR cases, decisions for which the teachers await up to this day. “We cannot fathom how he could have succeeded in leaving the country despite these and the existing unserved warrants for his arrest. It pains us to hear that since his release from jail, he has continued to operate and victimize more of our innocent kababayans, this time in Spain. We feel that if only our authorities could have done their jobs and addressed our cases more actively this could not have happened,” Belmonte said. The Philippine government has an existing extradition treaty in Spain. “We call on the Department of Justice and concerned government agencies to take urgent action. They should immediately coordinate with Spanish authorities to arrest and extradite Rodriguez. “We speak on behalf of at least 300 trafficked teachers here in the Philippines, at least 300 more in the US, and now at least six other Filipinos in Spain. We hope that our authorities be propelled to act now lest Rodriguez succeeds in victimizing more Filipinos with impunity,” Belmonte said. ###